26th October, 2011

Happy Diwali

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Pickled Politics would like to wish our Sikh and Hindu readers a very Happy Diwali.

Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali (the “festival of lights”) for a range of reasons, most popularly to commemorate the return of the victorious Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya, as described in the Ramayana. The inhabitants of the city decorated it with lamps to celebrate Rama’s return. The festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil.

Sikhs celebrate Diwali to commemorate the return of the 17th century Sikh Guru Hargobind to Amritsar after he had been imprisoned for political reasons. The Guru had eventually negotiated the simultaneous release of 52 imprisoned kings; his arrival in Amritsar coincided with Diwali, and the overjoyed population adorned the city with lights to celebrate his return. You can see a photo of modern-day Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple in Amritsar at the top of this article. Guru Hargobind’s supporters included Mian Mir, the Muslim saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple and was later the main religious teacher of the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh.

The Golden Temple’s architecture symbolises the core Sikh principles of the unity of God irrespective of the name people call their deity by, and the inherent unity & equality of mankind irrespective of people’s religious background. Like the other 9 Sikh Gurus, Guru Hargobind himself embodied these principles and therefore had a mosque built for the Muslim population of the town he’d founded in Punjab (the mosque was recently renovated by a major joint Sikh-Muslim project in India). Guru Hargobind was also responsible for initiating the militarisation of the Sikh population by raising a standing army, and for founding the Akal Takht, the temporal seat of Sikh authority which now forms part of the Golden Temple complex.

Some suitable music to mark the occasion:

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Filed under: Hindu,Religion,Sikh
16th October, 2011

Jagjit Singh – a tribute

by guest at 5:51 pm    

This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh.

The music legend Jagjit Singh sadly passed away on Monday in the Indian city of Mumbai. He was 70 years of age and had died of a brain hemorrhage. Like myself, millions had grown up with his music and songs. Many of them he had earlier sung with his beautiful and talented wife, Chitra Singh. Over the years though, the couple have had to endure horrific tragedies, particularly in relation to the deaths of their son and daughter. That pain and loss would cast a shadow on much of Singh’s compositions.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jagjit Singh perform live in London and was immediately captivated by his soft and warm voice and his take on the Ghazal, the musically form of Urdu ‘shayari’ or poetry. Without realising it, he had brought alive the words of the 19th Century poet Mirza Ghalib like no one before him. Such was his impression on me then, that I began to learn to read the Urdu script so to understand fully what was being said.

Yet Jagjit Singh was no ordinary singer from the subcontinent. He crossed borders and faiths in his quest to bring poetry to ordinary folk. From the Urdu verse and the Punjabi poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, to the Punjabi Tappe, Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads. Before his untimely death, he was in the middle of a tour with renowned Pakistani ghazal legend, Ghulam Ali.

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3rd February, 2011

British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL

by Jai at 9:00 am    

A number of the largest Sikh and Hindu organisations in Britain have formally released a joint statement forcefully condemning the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. The latter is of course particularly applicable to the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit (sometimes known as “Amit”) Singh; he was also one of the EDL members interviewed by BBC’s Newsnight as part of a documentary about the group which the programme showed earlier this week. As previously discussed on Pickled Politics, Guramit himself is currently being prosecuted by the police for “intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress, under Section Four of the Public Order Act 1986”, following a public speech by Guramit which included the following remarks:

“I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.”

The speech is available on Youtube. Guramit has also previously boasted on his Facebook page about his murderous hatred of Muslims:

“the muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!”

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14th December, 2010

The ‘model minority’ issue

by Rumbold at 10:41 am    

One of the Daily Mail’s main stories today concerns a new study which examines what they call “the lifestyle of a typical Middle Briton.” This study looked at a number of different factors to produce a picture of a typical middle class household. The Daily Mail’s take on it was interesting, as it headlined the piece:

How Sikhs and Hindus became the bedrock of middle Britain

The actual article spends very little time on this, but it is telling that the Daily Mail chose such a headline, which suggests a clear ‘endorsement’ of Sikhs and Hindus, and recognition that you can be British without being white. This should be all the more welcome coming only months after the same paper said that second and third generation British Asians couldn’t be considered British.

There are a few problems here though. The main one is that such an approach once again resorts to stereotyping. Not in a negative way with regards Hindus and Sikhs, but in a way that lumps them all into one group: both religions contain masses of very different individuals, from professors to convicts, so to suggest they form a monolithic group is wrong.

This idea feeds into the notion of the ‘model minority’, which is difficult to tackle because it is viewed in a positive way. Often applied to Sikhs (amongst others), the notion of a ‘model minority’ suggests a well-integrated, hard-working ethnic/religious group whom few have a bad word to say about it. For many first generation immigrants who experienced severe racism in the 1960s and 1970s, being in such a group is seen as a great advantage, and understandably so.

The problem with this though is twofold: Firstly it encourages members of that group and those dealing with this group to view them as a single monolithic block, which discourages individualism and perpetuates the old colonial mentality of ethnic groups being apart from mainstream society. Secondly it leads to competition between different minority groups, who use the praise given to them as a ‘model minority’ as a way of showing that their ‘community’ is superior to other ones. In this case, that would mean the Muslims. Some white people will make the same comparisons, leading to bigotry against groups seen to not be model minorities, rather than treating people in those groups as individuals.

Filed under: EDL,Hindu,Muslim,Sikh
5th November, 2010

Happy Diwali

by Jai at 8:30 am    

Today is Diwali, popularly known as the “Festival of Lights”.

It is celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus (often jointly), although the historical origins of the festivals in their respective religions are different. In Sikhism, the festival commemorates the return of the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind to the city of Amritsar after his imprisonment in Gwalior Fort by the Mughal emperor Jahangir, as the Golden Temple along with the whole city had been decorated with lamps to celebrate the Guru’s return. Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas, meaning “Day of the Release of Prisoners”, as the Guru had arranged for 52 royal political prisoners to be simultaneously freed from the fort. A photograph of Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple complex a couple of years ago is displayed at the top of this article.

North Indian Hindus in general celebrate Diwali primarily to mark the return of the Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya after his victory over Ravan, as described in the Ramayana. Many Hindus also celebrate the festival for a range of other reasons, including offering prayers to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi so that she blesses their families with prosperity during the following year. Public decorations of lights to mark the occasion are common worldwide wherever there are sizeable Hindu populations. Incidentally, last year Barack Obama was the first US president to personally celebrate Diwali in the White House.

Some suitable music:

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Filed under: Hindu,Religion,Sikh
23rd September, 2010

Hindu supremacist allowed in the UK; no one outraged

by Sunny at 6:32 pm    

Meet Sadhvi Rithambara – she is a rabble rouser from India. She is also a leader at the Hindu militant group: Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and a founder of Durga Vahini (Army of Durga) – A Hindu women’s militant group in India.

DV trains women in India to become part of a growing militia. It works in tandem with the Bajrang Dal – the male version.

“Our aim is to insulate young girls from cultural pollution and teach them various ancient Indian traditions,” a VHP official said. He said TV was destroying Indian values and affecting young girls adversely. “The Vahini’s members discuss ways to protect Indian culture from the Western onslaught.”

A few years ago, the Indian govt established Liberhan Commission, investigating the demolition of 16th Century Babri Mosque by Hindu militants.

It held Sadhvi Rithambara and 67 other Hindu leaders in India guilty for demolishing the mosque and igniting the subsequent violence that killed some 3,000 people across India.

This woman is now on a tour of the UK, visiting temples and giving speeches. The Council of Indian Muslims (UK) are outraged. I doubt the press or any of the usual suspects will pay attention though – it doesn’t fit the narrative.

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31st August, 2010

Happy Janmashtami (Krishna’s Birthday)

by Jai at 11:45 am    

Hindus worldwide celebrate today as Krishna’s birthday, so “Happy Janmashtami” to PP readers who are marking the occasion.

According to Indian tradition, Krishna was born approximately 5000 years ago, although modern-day historians have estimated that the period of ancient Indian history described in the semi-mythological Mahabharata was more accurately around 3500 years ago. Festivities are held at Hindu temples around the world, including major temples in Britain such as the Swaminarayan temple in Neasden and Bhaktivedanata Manor near Watford. The late George Harrison left the latter building to the associated Hindu sect when he passed away and they usually hold large-scale festivities every year, involving tens of thousands of visitors during the course of several days and including music, free food etc. I’ve been to these annual events many times and they always have a nice, relaxed atmosphere, especially if the summer weather at the time is warm and sunny.

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Filed under: Hindu,Religion
26th March, 2010

The Music of Unity and the Politics of Division

by Jai at 4:56 pm    

With the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi approaching in a few weeks, coupled with ongoing issues involving both Islamist extremists and far-Right groups such as the BNP and EDL, perhaps this would be a good time to highlight some inspirational historical and modern-day figures from a range of backgrounds.

Bhai Dya Singh

Dya Singh is a Sikh religious singer, originally from Malaysia but now based in Australia. He is the gentleman in the white turban shown meeting the Dalai Lama in the photograph at the top of this article, which was taken at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne in December 2009. Dya Singh’s World Music Group consists of non-Sikh (indeed, non-Asian) musicians as well as Sikhs, and regularly embarks on global tours where they promote Sikhism’s universal non-sectarian humanitarian message via a combination of hymns sung in both traditional and fusion styles. Dya Singh, who has performed at numerous prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall in London, makes it a point to translate the lyrics into English for the benefit of the wider audience. This is the same approach that the Sikh Gurus took, as they were fluent in multiple languages and preached their message in the local languages of the various peoples they met.

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25th November, 2009

BJP leaders implicated in mosque’s destruction

by Rumbold at 12:29 pm    

Two senior figures in the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party that forms the main opposition in India, have been condemned in a leaked report over the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in 1992. The mosque was said to have been on the site of the birthplace of Lord Ram, and the destruction of the mosque helped raise the profile of the BJP and increase communal tensions.

L. K. Advani, the current parliamentary BJP leader, and Atal Behari Vajpayee, the former leader and prime minister, are the two most senior BJP figures named in the report. Yet given the lamentable record of the Indian courts at charging politicians with starting/aiding communal violence, I doubt that anything will happen to them. Both BJP (Modi) and Congress (1984) politicians have avoided any sanction over their past behaviour, and this report too is likely to have little legal impact.

11th May, 2009

British Hindu fundamentalists exposed

by Sunny at 8:47 am    

Lastr week Radio 4 ran this documentary:

Navdip Dhariwal investigates the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in Britain. Hindutva – the belief that India should exclusively follow the laws and principles of the majority Hindu faith – has been evolving and developing on the sub-continent for many decades.

Navdip explores the history of the Hindu right wing in India and its power and influence within Hindu communities outside India. She asks why increasing numbers of Hindus are being drawn to the fundamentalist agenda, which some regard as anti-Muslim and anti-Christian. Her investigation leads her to British Hindus who are giving seemingly charitable donations that are, in reality, ending up in the coffers of the Hindu right.

You can listen to the doc from here. I’ll write more on this later…

Filed under: Hindu,Organisations
26th March, 2009

Situation worsens for minorities in Pakistan

by Rumbold at 8:53 pm    

Before the latest round of violence, the situation was already bad for minorities in Pakistan. But now increased numbers are fleeing as more of them are targeted by religious extremists.

5th March, 2009

Sikh groups angry at Modi visit

by Sunny at 5:53 pm    

Chief minister and “butcher of Gujarat” Narendra Modi is coming to the UK from India in May. Now various Sikh groups have also got wind of this and are issuing their own statements and getting ready for protests. This is going to be a brilliant spectacle.

9th December, 2008

Sonal Shah and the VHP

by Shariq at 11:24 am    

Sonal Shah is part of the Obama transition team. She has even been tipped by some for a cabinet position. However ennis at Sepia Mutiny has been doing an excellent job in reporting her links to the radical VHP.

To be honest, I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand she’s got a stellar resume and seems like the type of person who would be a natural fit in the Obama administration. Also after what Obama went through, it seems a bit hypocritical to be targeting someone based on her associations.

On the other hand she was a member of the governing council of the VHP America for three years. It doesn’t seem plausible that someone who is as upto date with current affairs doesn’t know about the VHP’s radical nature, which has manifested itself in anti-Christian pogroms as well as the Gujarat riots.

As Ruchira in the 3 quarks comments thread said, Rahm Emmanuel apologised for his father’s anti-arab remarks and ‘ perhaps Ms Shah too can do the same rather than just issue carefully worded statements about her “innocent” associations with the VHP.’

15th October, 2008

Outdoor cremation court challenge

by Rumbold at 8:26 pm    

Currently, in the UK, outdoor cremations are not allowed. However, under the 1902 Cremation Act, outdoor cremations are not specifically banned, which is why Davender Kumar Ghai, a Hindu spiritual healer, has been allowed to seek a judicial review challenging the current refusal to allow outdoor cremation:

“In South Asia the vast majority of cremations for Hindus and Sikhs are held outdoors, often on the banks of a river that has been deemed holy. Although widely practised in the Sikh faith, outdoor cremations are not considered compulsory.

In Hinduism, however, there is more widespread agreement that the 4,000-year-old practice of open-air burning is the most spiritually appropriate way to release a soul from the body following death. Many Hindus believe that mechanical cremations lead to akal mrtyu (a bad death), where the soul is forced to mingle with other souls because it has not been able to escape.

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12th September, 2008

First Hindu school opens Monday

by Sunny at 1:10 am    

… and already the excuses have started. I’m not for faith schools, but I accept that it would be discriminatory to stop more non-CoE schools being opened. Which is why I signed the Accord Coalition statement.

Filed under: Hindu,Organisations
17th May, 2008

Religious symbols in schools; a strange twist

by Rumbold at 9:04 pm    

Normally when religious symbols and schools make the news, it is to do with pupils being denied the opportunity to display the symbols. A Sikh school in the Indian Punjab has done the opposite however, and insisted that the Hindus in the school (who make up around 20% of the pupils), have to wear turbans. A number of Hindu parents are complaining that they were not told about this, while the school claim that this has been their policy for a while and that it was clearly stated. Looking up the school’s code of conduct, one finds that:

“All non-sikh students follow their own religion but they have to cover their head with Patka (up to Class V) or Dastaar (Classes VI to XII) and they have to follow the spiritual and religious curriculum of Akal Academy.”

(A Patka is a cloth head covering, sometimes worn instead of a turban. A Dastaar is a turban)

As far as I can tell, the school has done nothing wrong. It is a Sikh school and insists on a uniform. The rules are clearly laid out, and the rule about non-Sikhs’ headgear is covered in the first point of the freely-available code of conduct. The only bone of contention would be whether expecting non-Sikhs to wear turbans is right from a religious point of view.

5th February, 2008

Angry! Hindu! Community! Leaders!

by Sunny at 3:47 am    

This is really, really funny. I got forwarded an email yesterday from “the angry Hindu community”. See if you can figure out what is actually annoying them.

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7th December, 2007

Modi-watch

by Rumbold at 1:01 pm    

K Singh alerted us to the news that, with elections in Gujarat approaching, the Chief Minister, Narenda Modi, is in trouble. Modi has been implicated in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, yet still retains his post and much of his popularity. This is not the first time that he has been in trouble during these elections either:

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29th November, 2007

Hindus also in faith-school tizzle

by Sunny at 10:27 am    

It’s not just the Jewish possibly falling foul of the law on faith schools. Yesterday the Hindu Council UK sent out a circular stating:

Britain’s first state-funded Hindu Primary school, set to open in Harrow, north London, in September 2008, has outlined an admissions policy the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) says may rule out applications from the vast majority of British Hindu children in the area. HCUK is also concerned the policy may cause division within the local Hindu community.

The Krishna-Avanti school is expected to be oversubscribed when it opens and HCUK has no argument with priority being given to children from ‘practising Hindu families.’ However, the school’s definition of a ‘practising Hindu’ is not one that could be said to be acceptable to the majority of Hindus either worldwide or here in Britain.

According to the admissions policy document, the Krishna-Avanti school defines practising Hindus as those who follow a version of Hinduism requiring daily practice of deity worship and prayer either in the temple or at home; undertake weekly temple-related charity work; participate fortnightly in temple programmes; accept and put into practice the teachings of the Vedic scriptures, in particular the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita; and abstain from meat, fish, eggs, alcohol and smoking.

The admissions policy also allows for available places to be filled by children from families ‘broadly following’ the tenets of Hinduism. But even this requires them to attend a temple monthly, be vegetarian, and attend a local temple for the festivals of Diwali, Janmasthami and Ramnavmi.

How. Funny. Is. That. And someone said faith schools would help create cohesion?

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16th November, 2007

What is the point of the MCB?

by Sunny at 9:17 am    

Earlier this year at a City Circle event someone asked Inayat Bunglwala to cite the Muslim Council of Britain’s biggest achievement over the past ten years. I’m told he was genuinely at a loss to come up with an answer.

My hostility towards Hindu, Sikh and Muslim “community leaders” is no secret, for reasons I outlined in this article last year. I genuinely feel they make life worse for all of us. One has to pay a bit of attention to understand how they do this.

The Hindu Forum, run by Ramesh Kallidai, wants to separate Hindus from other brown people so it can get funding as the only Hindu representative. It managed to get some more cash recently by launching something called Hindu Aid. It has whipped up plenty of silly controversies in the past. It is linked to the RSS in India, which has its own anti-Sikh and anti-Muslim agenda. Ramesh Kallidai manifested this by making unsubstantiated allegations about Muslims forcibly converting Hindu/Sikh girls earlier this year. The Met Police has yet to be referred a single case on this claim.

While the HFB mostly wants money, the Sikh Federation wants Khalistan. It is also frustrated that it doesn’t get enough attention so its chief asks Sikhs to get more angry. And it continually gets politicians to come to its events so it can slowly push the Khalistan agenda. None of the stupid politicians who support it know its background of course. Since Sikhs and Hindus aren’t constantly in the media, these organisations don’t have a media profile and so keep looking for the next controversy to whip up so they’ll get some press attention and eventually some money. They’ve learnt about Labour’s colonial approach to brown people.

So what exactly does the MCB want? What is its purpose for existing? It has a huge media profile; it doesn’t do that badly for money (compared to the Hindus/Sikhs) and its position as the numero uno Muslim org isn’t under threat. So what is its point?

It does a bad job of representing since polls constantly put its approval rating amongst Muslims between 10% – 15%. Even Bush has better ratings. It does a terrible job of representing Muslims because the two Bs (Bari and Bunglwala) do a brilliant job of annoying the hell out of everyone when they open their mouths.
As Dal Nun Strong says:

I can understand that Muslim representative groups must appear to represent ordinary Muslims in their foibles and attitudes. This seems to me a necessary and laudable position. But surely this could be compatible with offering advice to their constituency as to how best to avoid jarring and damaging situations that might give rise to negative press reports?

I mean, after all, what benefit is there in representing a community in a manner that doesn’t admit the tensions, contradictions and difficulties that any impartial observer knows full well are there? I’m fairly certain that if the MCB took an approach to multiculturalism that celebrated the multiple cultures within the Muslim communities resident in Britain, it’d make more sense. Then we could have a national-level discussion that was more accurate and better focused.

I’ll accept that the vast majority of the (right-wing) media is hostile to Muslims. In which case, isn’t it better for the MCB to be more tactful so they don’t exacerbate this paranoia? I think Dal Nun Strong’s point, that the MCB benefits by taking a hardline position, is also correct. By taking a confrontational attitude they satisfy their hardline members, while indicating to Muslims that they are their only saviours. As I’ve said before, if my only impression of British Muslims came from the MCB, then I’d be pretty paranoid too. I suspect the main reason only 23% of people agreed that: “Islam – as distinct from Islamic fundamentalist groups – poses a threat to Western liberal democracy,” was because people know Muslims personally and don’t see the MCB as representing everyone.

There are serious problems that need to be dealt with: challenging the government’s attack on our civil liberties (especially of British Muslims); dealing with media bias and outright lies about Muslims; openly challenging the extremism of groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir. But the MCB is not up to these tasks because it doesn’t have the credibility, with govt ministers or most on the liberal-left. Labour then has little incentive to listen to its demands and Muslims lose out because people aren’t sympathetic to the organisation pushing that agenda. Someone else needs to step up to the task.

15th November, 2007

“Govardhan Brown”

by Sunny at 9:40 am    

I’ve been sent this press release

********

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who opened the Sixth Annual Diwali reception at the House of Commons on 14 November, was given an honorary Hindu name by the Hindu Forum of Britain.

Welcoming the Prime Minister to the multi-party reception attended by over 100 MPs and 200 community leaders to celebrate the Hindu festival of light, Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindi Forum of Britain said, “One of the meanings of the word ‘Gordon’ in Gaelic is a ‘hill with meadows’ . But in Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus, we have a word for this too. It is a name for Lord Krishna, and it also refers to a sacred hill, called ‘Govardhan’. We would therefore like to welcome you as an honorary member of our community, not as Gordon Brown, but as Govardhan Brown.”

Replying, the Prime Minister thanked the Hindu Forum of Britain not only for organising this event here today, but also for the important role the Forum plays nationally in Britain. He envisaged this role will continue to grow. He also added that on his visit India early next year he would take the opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Singh about the success of the Hindu community in Britain.

Other speakers at the reception, which was sponsored by Barclays Commercial, included Caroline Spelman, Chair of the Conservative Party, Vincent Cable, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Tony McNulty, Home Office Minister for Security and Policing, and Harriet Herman, Deputy Leader of the House.

Harriet Herman launched a guide for Hindu charities published by the Hindu Forum of Britain. The guide, Working with a Hindu Ethos, is an easy reference book for Hindu groups who wish to form and run charitable organisations in keeping with Hindu values.

********

When will these politicians learn not to suck up to “community leaders”?

14th November, 2007

Electoral shenanigans in Gujarat

by Rumbold at 12:14 pm    

Sunny has repeatedly covered the 2002 Gujarat massacres and their aftermath, which saw Hindu mobs attack Muslims after a train carrying Hindus was set alight. Those at the top of the Gujurati political food chain have yet to answer for their complicity in the massacres and are still contesting elections.

Indian TV station NDTV has now uncovered disturbing evidence that Muslim voters are being intimidated into not voting in the upcoming elections:

“At a village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, complaints of Kalal Muslims, an extremely backward group, get lost in the din of frustration. Among the many complaints they have, one is the threat to their vote.

During the last assembly elections their names were suddenly transferred from the polling booth at this government school to the RSS-run Thakker Adarsh High School. ”My parents went to vote and they weren’t allowed to vote. Our vote was in this government school nearby, I don’t know why they had to send us to this Adarsh School farther away,” said Rafiq.

No one actually has an explanation for why this shift happened.

In Kadi tehsil alone, 25 polling booths have been shifted to RSS-run institutes, the official reason, there was no other alternative. When NDTV visited the Adarsh School polling booth, we were greeted with a larger than life statue of Bharat mata.”

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17th September, 2007

Lord Ram’s legacy?

by Rumbold at 9:43 am    

In the Hindu epic the Ramayana, the hero Lord Ram sets out to destroy the terrible demon Ravana, who resides in what is now Sri Lanka. To cross from India to Sri Lanka, Ram constructs a bridge by quelling the sea, and uses monkeys to help him build it. I enjoyed reading the (shortened version of the) Ramayana greatly, but could not say whether this story was true or not. Some people however, are more certain of the accuracy of this book:

“Protest rallies have been held across India by hard-line Hindus to campaign against a proposed shipping canal project between India and Sri Lanka …Protesters say the project will destroy a bridge they believe was built by Hindu God Ram and his army of monkeys.”

Indian archaeologists have argued that there is no basis for the belief that the ‘bridge’ was constructed by Lord Ram. Despite the lack of evidence produced by the protestors though, the minister in charge has still offered to resign. Does it matter whether the bridge was built by Lord Ram or not, since it has become a holy site? Should it be protected on this basis alone, even if the protestors can produce absolutely no evidence to substantiate their claims? Can epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which feature gods and demons, be used as evidence?

10th August, 2007

Between a rock and hard place

by Sunny at 4:47 am    

The Times of India rarely publishes any good editorials. But I found this article via Neha and it hits the nail on the head: Why You Don’t Understand Indian Muslims:

Azmi’s helplessness is symptomatic of the Muslim leadership’s collective weightlessness and worthlessness. Divided into two clear categories, the orthodox and the liberals, Islamic socio-political leadership in this country is hollow, myopic, marginalised and often opportunist. Both the god-fearing, fatwa-fascinated Mullahs and the not-so religious moderates (some of them are known atheists) share a common quality: They are not the real voice of India’s largest minority.

Yet, the desperate search for good quotes and sound bytes makes the media court the members of these two camps. As a result, the average Indian thinks that an uneducated Muslim (who is represented on television by radical loose-canon mullahs) is dangerously communal, and that a suave educated Muslim (represented by English-speaking cliché-afflicted liberals) is ludicrously political correct and knows how to make the right noises. In between these two extremes, lies the average Muslim on the street, and his personality is lost in the sound bytes of the faces media likes.

In the UK we have the Muslim Council of Britain on one side, and possibly British Muslims for Secular Democracy on the other. It is even worse for British Sikhs and Hindus, I would argue, because there is no pressing need for the progressives to speak out. There’s no one attacking them. So it is left to rabble-rousers like the Hindu Forum and Sikh Federation to “represent” while constantly trying to create controversies they can get media attention in.

31st July, 2007

The Hindu stance on Shambo

by Sunny at 3:36 am    

On a mailing list I’m on, a teacher of Hinduism from the Vivekanda Centre in London sent out this message about the recent furore around the cow Shambo. I thought it was worth reading. He hits the nail on the head on how this ‘controversy’ has misrepresented Hinduism, but was used by the Hindu Forum of Britain for their own publicity.

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